Ulcers in horses is a common problem
If you’ve experienced a gastric ulcer, then you’re all too familiar with the discomfort and irritation that accompanies them. Now imagine that awful feeling plaguing your horse, your precious angel! No Horse mum would ever wish such an illness on her hooved child, but the fact remains that ulcers are a fairly common problem in the equine community.
Approximately 50% of foals and 35% of adult horses confined in stalls develop mild ulcers. Moderate to severe ulcers appears in up to 60% of show horses and 90% of racehorses. Ulcers are a common issue, caused by some various reasons, are known as equine gastric ulcer syndrome, or EGUS.
What causes a Horse to get Ulcers
Horses get ulcers for the same reasons many humans do: a combination of stress and poor diet. A horse’s stomach has evolved for grazing. By eating frequent smaller meals, it is rarely empty. Therefore, the stomach acid is less damaging to the lining. If horses and foals do not eat frequently, consume poor quality hay or too much of certain types of roughage, the acid will build up and allow ulcers to develop. Excessive exercise, or changes in the exercise routine, have been linked to the appearance of ulcers as well. And when your horse experience stress, blood flow to the stomach decreases, leaving the lining vulnerable to ulcers.
Symptoms your Horse has an Ulcer
Signs that your baby may be suffering from EGUS include intermittent colic, poor appetite, teeth grinding, excessive salivation, diarrhea, and lying on the back in foals. In adult horses, weight loss, poor coat, mild colic, changes in attitude, poor performance and lying down more than average.
The approved treatment for EGUS is omeprazole. It’s an acid pump inhibitor, 5 times more potent than ranitidine and has been used with great success to treat ulcers in horses (and people too). Omeprazole can be used to both treat and prevent the development of ulcers, and is available in oral paste and easy-to-use, once-a-day doses of granules.
Only your veterinarian via a costly and uncomfortable endoscope can properly diagnose EGUS. Once diagnosed, treatment regime is 28 once-a-day doses of Omeprazole. Symptoms should ease within a few days, but it will take a month for an ulcer to heal fully.
How to prevent Gastric Ulcers in Horses
Please give your precious horse an extended time to heal after treating their ulcer. Omeprazole as an ongoing prevention can be administered pre and post stressful event A horse’s natural environment is in the pasture around the clock- yes eating 24/7. As much as we love them, stabling, training and performing is not what nature intended. These activities (and return to a poor diet) may cause your horse additional stress, which in turn could lead to a flare-up of equine gastric ulcers time and time again.